By Janet Goetze
For the Hollywood Star News
A group of church representatives seeking ways to reduce local poverty has adopted a name and started discussions about how to achieve its goals.
The group, inspired by an October, 2015, anti-poverty seminar, decided in January to call itself the Northeast Interfaith Alliance.
Members, largely from eleven Northeast Portland churches, agreed on a goal: “In three to five years, the Northeast Interfaith Alliance will constitute an ongoing network of cooperation addressing the root causes of poverty in our community.”
The alliance described itself as “an interfaith network that advocates for people living in poverty, assists in identifying and overcoming systemic problems that preserve poverty, and helps families move toward increased stability.”
Several members raised questions about how it will operate, how large its working territory should be, and how to bring in more members of their own and other faith groups.
Carol Turner, the meeting moderator, said the intention never was to advocate for just Northeast Portland residents. Initially, she said, 20 faith groups were contacted and 11 responded by sending representatives to working meetings.
The Rev. Beth Neel, co-pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church, said no one living in poverty has been part of the working meetings.
“How do we make sure we are advocating for the things people really want?” Neel asked.
A focus group including formerly homeless people, many now receiving job training with New City Initiatives, has been suggested, Turner said.
Members agreed to provide information to congregations about alliance goals and to work on subcommittee projects. The next meeting will be at noon March 31. Future meetings will be at noon on the last Thursday of the month, at least through May, at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1624 N.E. Hancock St.
The alliance grew out of a seminar with Donna Beegle, president of a consulting firm, Communication Across Barriers, which aids groups concerned about poverty. She recommended four complex factors to reduce poverty: build hope among individuals, remove shame and paralyzing judgment, reduce isolation and create a “poverty informed” community with facts about conditions that leave people without basic needs or hope of change.